It’s been almost a year since the London Olympics—my how time flies! To mark the occasion, we decided to pick each other’s brains about our time spent at the Olympics. Meeting people from around the world, getting swept up in the excitement—all with a camera in hand—there is one thing we both agree on: this was an experience that will never be forgotten. See part 2 here.
Sulagna: What was it like watching the Olympics at home? Especially since you knew you would join the action eventually?
Kia: My family and I are very big Olympics fans… Every two years we are glued to the television. The week before, my parents were out visiting me (in DC) and we kept popping in bars and restaurants to catch whatever was on. Of course, we were interested in all of the “big American stories”-Misty and Kerri, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, etc. But it never really hit me that I was going until I got on the plane to go to London. What SHOULD have been going through my head and wasn’t was the question “Where are all the other stories?” We are notorious for playing only American competitions, but it wasn’t until I got to London and saw other coverage that I truly became aware of the divide between what was going on and what was being shown on NBC. One huge difference I noticed was when we were watching the Games in public. In the US, there was a sense of camaraderie when Americans won; in London, it didn’t matter who did or did not win, the camaraderie was there no matter what. I suppose that’s one of the “perks” of being a host city–it’s the people in the city who really are able to feel the true Olympic spirit.
Sulagna: Oh, that is so true! Going to London makes me think of watching the Olympics so differently, especially as an American. I felt like I was missing out before, but I didn’t realize how much.
Kia: But we can’t be too harsh on just the US–every country plays its own stories because that’s what people are interested in. Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia… Each house that we went to played sports their country was excelling at. It’s just more obvious with the US considering how we dominate both the medal count and the airwaves.
Sulagna: Yeah, that’s very true. Especially with the medal count. To be honest, I always feel a little embarrassed that we “win” on the medal table. Seeing how other countries get so excited about one person from their country winning puts that into some perspective. But it was really cool to see a USC student compete and win a medal!
Kia: Yeah that was exciting! We didn’t even realize she was a USC student until we saw her at an event the semester after. That was the great thing about our school: we had the most student athletes at the Olympics of any other school in the states, and racked up enough medals to be in the top ten (or so I’ve heard) if we were a country, but many of the students were representing different countries. It’s great to think that some athletes competing against each other at the Olympics actually are team members during the school year… It shows the importance of educational exchanges.
Sulagna: What was your favorite interview?
Kia: One of the greatest interviews was with three German guys we first met at the German house. One lived there for work and the other two were visiting for the Games. They were so excited to be there! Extremely friendly and easy going, ready to talk about their Olympic adventure. The best part was that two days later, we were heading over to the race walk event and hear a shout behind us—it was them! Sporting German and Australian team wear and heading to the event.
Sulagna: What did you think of the houses?
Kia: The houses ended up being where we spent most of our time. Each house had a slightly different purpose; all had the Games playing on a channel from their home country (which was an amazing way to watch the Games!) but some were purely interested in providing a point for their own citizens to watch the games together, while others used their house as an outlet to showcase their country to others. Russia very clearly was promoting Sochi, which was fascinating.
Sulagna: What did you think of Hyde Park?
Kia: Hyde Park was wonderful. It shows how much London went all out to include its own residents, with a “hey, maybe not everyone is excited about the games being hosted here, so let’s throw a huge party everyday.” I LOVED the different screens showing literally every sport that was going on.
And Lastly: What we remember the most!
Kia: What I remember the most was the contagious spirit that surrounded London everywhere we went. It might have been the fact that the city was clothed in bright pinks and purples, or the fact that everywhere we turned there was a smiling volunteer welcoming us to the city, or the fact that there were people from all over the world wearing clothes supporting countries and athletes (often supporting more than one country)-whatever it was, everyone was HAPPY and EXCITED. It was wonderful.
Sulagna: That’s what I remember too. As well as getting lost on the Tube a lot. Also, just so many people. A lot of different people though, but acting the same — excited, a little confused as to where to go, friendly, and happy to be there. It reminded me a bit of times when I’ve seen people gathered celebrating something, like weddings, but a little less formal. Like when Obama was elected the first time and I saw a bunch of people gathered dancing under the American flag in Union Square.